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‘True Blood’ Alum Rutina Wesley Cast in Oprah & Ava DuVernay’s OWN Series ‘Queen Sugar’

Rutina Wesley will star in “Queen Sugar,” the upcoming drama on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Variety has learned.

Based on the novel of the same name by author Natalie Baszile, “Queen Sugar” marks DuVernay’s first television project and Winfrey’s first acting gig on OWN, as she will appear on screen in an undisclosed role in the series.

“Queen Sugar” follows a spirited woman and her teenage daughter as they leave behind their upscale L.A. lifestyle for their Southern roots by way of an 800-acre Louisiana sugar cane farm she inherited from her recently departed father.

Wesley will star as Nova Bordelon, a formidable journalist and activist based in New Orleans. Her life, along with that of her brother and extended family, undergoes significant change when her sister, Charley, returns to Louisiana.

Hailing from the Warner Bros.-based Warner Horizon Television, Winfrey and DuVernay will both serve as exec producers with DuVernay writing and directing multiple episodes.

At the time of the series pickup, Winfrey and DuVernay talked about how much they enjoyed the book, with Winfrey saying, “I loved this book and immediately saw it as a series for OWN. The story’s themes of reinventing your life, parenting alone, family connections and conflicts, and building new relationships are what I believe will connect our viewers to this show.” DuVernay said, “From the moment I was introduced to the book, I was captivated by the idea of a modern woman wrestling with identity, family, culture and the echoes of history. To bring this kind of storytelling to life alongside Oprah for her network is wildly wonderful. I’m excited about what’s in store.”

The actress is known for portraying Tara on “True Blood.” Wesley had a big recurring role on NBC’s “Hannibal” and also appears on the CW’s “Arrow.” She is repped by Inspire Entertainment and SMGSB.

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